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Interview: Tord Boontje

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Intricate detailing, rich colors, the re-interpretation of iconic figures, all signature elements of a Tord Boontje design. Add to that new materials, the latest design and manufacturing technology and a unique sense of space and you have a designer who, in a relatively short time, has put his distinctive mark on the design world. We caught up with him on the occasion of the launch of a special holiday collection created just for department store Target. We asked him our usual questions as well as some targeted ones…

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Christmas day sketch for the Target collection.

When did you decide to become a designer?

When I was young, I was always making things like dens and furniture for my room or earrings that I would sell at school. My mother was a textile designer and teacher in history of art, so there were always lots of art books around. Then when I was 12 I discovered that you could actually go to a college and learn more about this, so that is what I decided to do.

Where do you do most of your design work?

In our studio in France.

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At work in the Tord Boontje design studio in France.

Where, or from what, do you get inspiration for your work?

I soak up everything, making things to live with is a reflection of life, so it includes having a nice dinner, shopping, visiting museums, a walk in the forest, watching a great movie, dance, or sunrise or reading a book.

What is your favorite part of the design process and why?

The very beginning, before things get complicated by reality, and then the end where we managed to overcome reality and make a fantasy come true.

How would you label/categorize your work?

Somewhere between romantic and technological.

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Imagery for a LED Luminaire for Target.

Do you have a signature style? If yes, what are the hallmarks of your style?

Chaoticness, randomness and forgetfulness

What item (PC, pen, etc) can you not do without when you are designing?

For the first bit, I do not need anything at all, I can do it inside my head. For the next part of the process I need my complete studio which is as large as an airplane hanger and houses a team of 6 people, machines, tools, computers and stuff. It is all essential, and seems to becomes more every day. Oh, and the coffee machine is important.

What’s next?

A collection of products and furniture, produced as a Studio Tord Boontje Collection and perhaps a story book.

And what about Target today… they’ve worked with object designers before for house branded collections, Michael Graves and Philippe Starck were two, and the results were mitigated. How is your collection different?

We have created not only a collection of 35 products across different product areas, tableware, party and decorating items, consumables and lighting, also this is the first time that Target has partnered with a designer to make a total Christmas season look. Besides the products, we have made store decorations for all 1,500 stores, the graphics for all catalogues and collaborated on the art-direction of the TV commercials. Target is a mass market chain, where mass produced items are sold, even compared to my experiences with other manufacturers that were industrial, this is a much larger scale. An estimated 100 million people will come in contact with these designs in the limited period that they will exist, from November 1st to just after New Year. For me this is also a nice idea, that there is a kind of limited edition build into the concept of the collection.

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In-store design for Target stores.

And are there plans for more Tord Boontje-Target collaborations?

We will see…

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Tord Boontje designed candelabra for Target.

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VITAL STATS

Full name: Tord Adrie Boontje

Location: Bourg-Argental, France

Size of team: 6

In business since: 1994

Claim to fame projects: Wednesday, Happy Ever After, Swarovski, Kvadrat, Target, Moroso.

Spare time: Walking and cooking

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MEDIA FAVES

Favorite website(s): wikipedia.org, showstudio.com

What music is on your ipod or radio? Goldfrapp

Your favorite magazine(s): icon, Frame, Vogue, Domus

Last or current book you are reading: Passionate Minds by David Bodanis

Last movie you saw: Rebecca by Hitchcock

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